Water Safety NZ's Swim Reaper returns to prevent drowning

With the first day of summer in mind, Water Safety New Zealand has brought back an internationally acclaimed character that illustrates the deadly consequences of making bad choices on the water.

Water Safety New Zealand's 'Swim Reaper' has officially opened reaping season, returning to warn young men, aged 15-30, about the grim reality of making unsafe decisions in the water.

"They're generally a group that don't like being told what to do, so we had to think of a confrontational way to get through to them that would resonate with them,"said Water Safety NZ CEO Jonty Mills.

The Swim Reaper's dark, but comic message seems to be catching on. Already, it's had almost 10 million social media views. 

It's a message designed to make young men stop and think, before they take risky decisions.

A message that might have helped Jarod Riseborough, before he jumped off a rock into a five-metre swell.

"I started really panicking, so my energy had gone," he said. "I swallowed lots of water and I actually started to drown a wee bit... and I thought 'this is it, I'm done, I'm dead'."

Jarod was lucky, he was rescued by a friend.

"He asked me to swim over towards him, and he allowed me to catch my breath and he was in his sane mind," he said. "He was thinking clearly and he knew the only chance of getting out of it was to swim into shore."

Water Safety research shows 33 percent of respondents had first-hand experience of a serious situation in the water, with 11 percent admitting alcohol was a main factor.

Water Safety NZ's Swim Reaper returns to prevent drowning
Photo credit: Newshub

When it comes to mixing alcohol and water activities, boating ranks high on the list, followed closely by incidents in rivers and beaches.

More than half of those Newshub spoke to on the beach knew about the Swim Reaper and thought it was a good idea.

And the Swim Reaper isn't just on social media... if you get a tap on the shoulder this summer, just remember death may really be just around the corner.